Re-Doing Joe Flacco's Contract Might Not Be Necessary, Agent Shares His Take
It was the exact question any reporter would pose to Joe Flacco's agent off the top of an interview.
Joe Linta was asked about renegotiating Flacco's $120 million contract this offseason. After all, Linta himself said three years ago that he expected renewed negotiations at this time.
But he threw interviewer Glenn Clark for a loop.
"I didn't know that we were negotiating, frankly," Linta said on Glenn Clark Radio Thursday morning. "That's news to me. … I don't know what negotiations we're talking about, because there aren't any ongoing right now."
OK, well, do you expect to sit down with the Ravens this offseason to talk about your client's contract? Flacco is scheduled to count $28.55 million against the cap, the third-highest figure in the NFL, which could be prohibitive in bolstering the rest of the Ravens roster.
"You know, I don't think so," Linta said. "You'd have to ask them that."
Reporters did just that.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome confirmed at the team's end-of-the-year press conference Thursday afternoon that the Ravens haven't started re-working Flacco's contract. In fact, they may not do so at all.
Team brass will gather for their annual meeting at Owner Steve Biscotti's home in Jupiter, Fla. next weekend, and they'll decide whether they can build a strong roster with Flacco's cap number as it already stands.
"Hopefully, if we are strategic enough, we can possibly put together a football team and not necessarily have to re-do Joe's contract," Newsome said. "That has to be an option that we will look at. But, we will sit down and talk about it. Then, at that point, there could be some conversation between Joe Linta and Pat [Moriarty, senior vice president of football administration]."
One reason why the Ravens might be able to absorb Flacco's cap hit in 2016, per Linta, is because of the rising cap environment. The league has reportedly told team executives that the salary cap limit next season will be between $147 million and $155 million. That is an increase of between $3.72 million and $11.72 million over the $143.28 million cap for this year.
If it ends up being on the higher end, the increase could help offset the $14 million rise in Flacco's cap hit year-to-year. That said, it would still be nearly 20 percent of the overall cap limit.
"This [cap hit] is onerous, certainly, but not debilitating in the sense that it can't be fit in a rising cap environment," Linta said. "I mean, it is what it is. That's the price of these types of quarterbacks. Every deal that's going to be done is going to be in that realm."
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees leads the league with a $30 million cap hit next season, followed by Flacco, New York Giants' Eli Manning ($24.2 million), Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger ($23.9 million) and Falcons' Matt Ryan ($23.75 million).
If the Ravens end up approaching Linta to re-work the contract, he said he and Flacco would be open to that. He said Flacco is very happy in Baltimore and with Head Coach John Harbaugh. But as of right now, there is no contract decision that Flacco has to make because nobody's approached him.
Both Linta and the Ravens' comments are surprising. In fact, they are so surprising that some media members aren't buying it completely.
And as for the rumors that the first round of negotiations after Super Bowl XLVII "became heated and somewhat acrimonious at times," per Jason La Canfora of CBS, Linta was quick to debunk any idea that his relationship with the Ravens has gone sour.
"I can promise you that when I see Pat Moriarty at the Senior Bowl, he will get a bear hug from me," Linta said. "He's one of my dearest friends in the business. Ozzie and I have been very respectful. We've talked several times during the season about other things. Pat and I go way, way back. I'm not going to tell you we've never argued, but brothers argue and they still love each other. Pat can come to my house anytime and my wife will cook dinner for him. Ozzie also."
In the meantime, Flacco is focused on rehabbing his surgically-repaired ACL and MCL. Linta said the quarterback is already ahead of schedule, and will certainly be ready for the regular-season if not sooner.
"He's just frustrated by the season and, obviously, the injury and can't wait to get back and start getting back on the winning track," Linta said of Flacco.
Did You Really Expect Drama From Bisciotti?
There was no anger, no fist pounding and no major changes announced.
The 2016 quest for the playoffs will feature almost all the same key figures as the 5-11 season, including nearly the entire coaching staff (minus one, see below), front office executives, and players, including Terrell Suggs, Joe Flacco and Steve Smith Sr.
"There were no significant revelations in the 50-minute news conference at the Under Armour Performance Center," wrote Zrebiec. "In fact, the group interview was probably most notable for the lack of drama and emotion, and the insistence on continuity."
As Zrebiec noted, there was no "tough talk" like in past addresses when Bisciotti challenged former Head Coach Brian Billick to change, said former Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron was "under fire," or admitted his patience has limits after the 2013 season.
Instead, Bisciotti showed no panic and preached that less turnover will lead to more success and he hopes the losing season was a blip on the radar.
Why the difference from some more dramatic season-review press conferences in the past?
"They weren't going to go up there and sound panicked over [the] first losing season since 2007," tweeted Zrebiec.
Not to mention a Super Bowl victory, six playoff seasons in eight years and 10 career playoff wins. I'd say Harbaugh, Newsome and their staffs have earned the benefit of the doubt.
"I was surprised he didn't express more visceral disappointment in the season," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker. "But anyone who expected Bisciotti to unleash fire and brimstone or vow sweeping changes has not been paying attention for the past 12 years. His Ravens have thrived on a culture of stability. He has made just one substantial change to the football operation in his tenure as owner — the decision to fire Brian Billick after the 2007 season.
"For the first time in a long time, Bisciotti's commitment to stability feels like a significant risk, because this year's team wasn't great even when it was largely healthy. But I also admire the Ravens' commitment to their essential Ravenness."
Losing Monachino 'A Blow' To Ravens, What Helped Pees' Cause
Among the few changes announced Thursday afternoon was Linebackers Coach Ted Monachino's departure to become the defensive coordinator in Indianapolis.
Monachino will join former Ravens Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano. Working together in Baltimore will likely make Monachino a good fit in Indy, as he knows Pagano's defensive philosophy well.
"Losing Ted Monachino is definitely a blow to the Ravens' defensive coaching staff," tweeted WNST's Luke Jones. "Close relationship with Terrell Suggs as well."
"Monachino was considered an in-house candidate to eventually succeed Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees here, but instead chose for his first career chance at being a defensive coordinator to be in Indianapolis," added The Sun's Jon Meoli.
That means Pees is staying in Baltimore, which is shocking to some at Russell Street Report.
I'm a little shocked by the shock.
Yes, the defense gave up the second-most points in franchise history, but Bisciotti spoke about how the Ravens underestimated the debilitating domino effect the loss of Terrell Suggs had on the defense. It took some time to adjust, but eventually Pees figured out how to play without him.
"What helped Pees' cause was how much the defense improved in the second half of the season," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "Baltimore went from being the No. 25-ranked defense in the first eight games of the year to No. 2 in the final eight games.
"As a result, the Ravens finished No. 8 in the league for the second straight year under Pees."
Ravens Seem 'Surprisingly Committed' To Secondary
It was hardly a surprise when Newsome confirmed what Lardarius Webb already told media about permanently moving from corner to safety.
What was surprising, at least to Walker, was how committed Newsome sounded to the defensive backfield with that one change. (Although, Ravens brass did say they'd like to find another safety in the draft.)
"I was struck by how aggressively Newsome turned the conversation to Webb when he was asked about the overall state of the team's secondary," Walker wrote. "The Ravens secondary clearly improved late in the season with Webb in an altered role. And Newsome seems to envision him as a key piece in what he hopes will be a more consistent unit in 2016. It's another example of the general manager doubling down on his existing talent, which was his overarching approach last offseason.
"It's a gamble, albeit a logical one if Webb will restructure his deal."
Where Will Ravens Find One Or Two More Receivers?
Fans were happy to hear the Ravens want to add at least one receiver to the roster. Newsome did not sound content on relying solely on Smith, who will be 37 next year, and Breshad Perriman, after injuries derailed their 2015 season.
But where exactly will these one or two receivers come from?
"Those guys aren't easy to find," wrote Walker. "The Ravens seem more likely to use the No. 6 overall pick on a cornerback, a pass rusher or an offensive tackle. And they never spend freely on the open market. So it's not clear where they'll find an infusion of speed, aside from hoping Perriman can do in 2016 what he couldn't in 2015.
"But we know they'll be looking."